I haven’t been to Santa Cruz in years so when my friends and I decided to take a day trip to Santa Cruz during Labor Day weekend, we were all in! We optimized our trip, packing in as much as we can and hitting up multiple spots for various photo opportunities. Below are some of my top recommendations on things to do in Santa Cruz!
Top places to go in Santa Cruz, California:
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: The day we went it was PACKED with families since it was a holiday weekend so we didn’t get to do much. Thus, I recommend going on a random weekend or weekday when it’s less crowded. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has free admission and you only pay for parking, food, and the games/rides you want to take. I wanted to ride rollercoasters but we weren’t able to due to time constraints and the lines being crazy. We instead made our boardwalk trip worth it by indulging in various fried foods!
Natural Bridges State Beach: We came here during sunset and it was breathtaking. I mean look at the sky! There’s a lot of free street parking in the neighborhood and it’s a pretty short walk to the beach. I loved how calm this beach was, how low the tides were, and how soft the sand was making it easy to walk on. There’s also hiking trails nearby making it a great spot for exploring or relaxing.
Capitola Beach: My favorite place to go in Santa Cruz is Capitola and Capitola Beach is my preferred beach in the area. It’s a 20-minute drive from Santa Cruz and well-worth it. Capitola is full of cute boutiques, restaurants (we had happy hour at Margaritaville), and the beach is vibrant, fun and has a family-friendly feel to it (but in a cute and not annoying way). We spent the majority of our time here lounging at the beach and taking Instagram-worthy photos with the cute colorful houses.